What to Do When Your Mastermind Group Flounders

People often start and join a mastermind group with high energy and high expectations. Several months into it, you can find your group flagging and floundering. People show up late or don’t come at all. People don’t participate. Energy levels are low and new ideas don’t really meet the needs of the members.

Why does this happen? Four reasons:

  1. You’re not meeting often enough. Too much time between meetings causes people to disconnect, both from the group and from their own goals. Consider meeting more often, or if that’s not possible, create an online message forum where people can connect with each other between meetings. Also consider short, check-in teleconferences between meetings, where people can talk about their work towards goals, challenges they’re having with those tasks, and any help they may need along the way.
  2. There’s not enough interaction. Mastermind group meetings are more than just the individual Hot Seats. Creating space in each meeting for group discussion and group exercises, as well as casual networking time, allows for fuller interaction among members. Consider inviting people to come a bit early for coffee or a meal together.
  3. Members are playing it safe. Mastermind groups are formed to help people create success in their personal and professional lives. Members state their goals and what actions/tasks they’ll take between meetings to accomplish those goals. Some members may state goals that are too easy, and other members may limit their participation in the Hot Seat discussions to topics that are below-par. Encourage your members to challenge themselves AND each other. Growth is the keyword.
  4. People begin to self-sabotage when asked to make major changes. You’ve seen this a million times. A mastermind group member sets an important goal for himself, and just as he’s beginning to near the finish line, the whole project falls apart. It’s common for people who have set big goals for themselves to self-sabotage their own success for many reasons. As the mastermind group facilitator, your job is to remind people of the goals they set and WHY they set them. It’s also your job to encourage all the members to support each other as they set off to achieve their life’s dream.

Keeping your mastermind group strong and vibrant makes for a healthy group that members value. Maintain close watch on members’ energy and participation levels, and take care of a floundering group before it folds.

Adapt Your Style: Coaching, Consulting, or Facilitating

Because a mastermind group is a balanced and equal process where everyone should be participating in the discussion, people like you and I who are consultants/teachers have to change our normal communication style to allow group discussions to flow. And if you’re a trained, professional coach (I’m talking about the ICF standards of the coaching profession), you’ll have to unlearn some of your communication style to become an extraordinary mastermind group Facilitator.

It took me a long time to master this!

If you’re a teacher or consultant…

In some mastermind groups, the Facilitator is the expert (that’s why they want to join your group). I was so used to giving advice and being seen as “the teacher” and “the expert,” that I had to shift to a new mindset: “The answer is in the room but it doesn’t have to come from me.” Definitely, the answer shouldn’t come from me first: the point of a mastermind group is that the members coach and advise each other.

So being a Facilitator doesn’t mean you never speak during the Hot Seats, it just means you encourage the answers to come from the group first. Then, if the group misses something crucial, you can join in to add the missing pieces.

Once I absorbed that, it was incredibly freeing to not have to be the only one with the answer. The power you feel when the discussion gets deep and productive is amazing, and you wouldn’t want to stifle that by always being the one with the answer.

If you’re a professional coach…

I graduated from CoachU. It was imbedded into my consciousness throughout my professional coach training that coaches do not advise, they are not directive, they don’t tell the client what to do.

The whole idea of a mastermind group is to share advice, brainstorm ideas, and share best practices. For professional coaches, this can cause some angst: Can I still be a coach and a mastermind group Facilitator? Can I still use all these wonderful coaching skills I have?

Of course, the answer is yes. So many of the skills you learned in coach training (listening,  co-creating the relationship, designing actions, etc.) are hugely valuable in a mastermind group. You can even ask coach-like, non-directive questions. But you’ve got to be willing to give advice and share ideas, too.

Think of it this way: we can use all our skills and talents in a mastermind group. Imagine a career where you can use the combination of your coaching, teaching, consulting, and group dynamics skills, all at the same time!

Just remember, as the Facilitator, you’re the last to speak, not the first. Keep that forefront in your mind and you can’t go wrong.

Great Books for Mastermind Groups to Read Together

One of the most insightful and inspiring things I’ve done with mastermind groups is to choose a book that the group reads and discusses together.

It’s an amazing journey of discover when you read the same chapter together, yet each person finds different themes and elements, and ways to apply the chapter to their lives.

Consider reading these books with your mastermind group:

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